Washington, D.C.—The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) sent a letter today to congressional leaders urging them to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 and affirm that all law enforcement agencies retain their traditional authority to fight sex trafficking. A bipartisan coalition of 50 state and territorial attorneys general signed the letter, which urges members of Congress to adopt a simple word addition to the CDA to clarify that all states, territories and localities retain authority to criminally investigate and prosecute online facilitators of child sex trafficking.
Every day, children in the United States are sold for sex. In instance after instance, state and local authorities discover that the vehicles for advertising the victims of the child sex trade to the world are online classified ad services, such as Backpage.com. Certain recent interpretations of the CDA have resulted in websites remaining outside the reach of state and local authorities. The simple addition to the CDA proposed by this letter will help to ensure that children can be effectively protected throughout the entire country, in all courts.
“It is both ironic and tragic that the CDA, which was intended to protect children from indecent material on the Internet, is now used as a shield by those who profit from prostitution and crimes against children,” reads the NAAG letter, which was led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and signed by 48 additional state and territorial attorneys general.
“Federal enforcement alone has proved insufficient to stem the growth in online promotion of child sex trafficking. Those on the front lines of the battle against the sexual exploitation of children – state and local law enforcement – must have clear authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of these and other horrible crimes.”